Sport Integrity

Conference on sports and human rights

Sport IntegrityA Conference on sport and human rights titled: Sport Integrity: A Right for Youth, was organised by the Permanent Missions of Italy and the State of Qatar, in cooperation with the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) and Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico (Lega Pro). The event, which took place on 6 November 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, aimed at raising awareness on the threats to sport integrity, such as sport results manipulation and child abuse. The event was also designed to present initiatives for the defence of sport values and involvement of youth, and to encourage the adoption of best practices and the highest child protection standards in sport.
During the Conference, a panel discussion on Sport and Children: Development and Protection was held with an impressive list of key speakers from various organisations and NGOs, such as: WFP, UNICEF, Right to Play, Child Protection in Sport Unit, International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), Football Culture Solidarity (CFS), the International Platform on Sport and Development and Save the Dream.
The panel discussion started with the question of the role of sport in tackling the first Millennium Development Goal. Several programmes were mentioned with this respect which provide food to millions of children in schools worldwide, and encourage poor families to send their children to school where they would be fed. At the same time, those programmes help to discover children’s talent in sports, as they are given the opportunity to attend schools and to develop athletically. The panellists stated that sport not only has a role of catalyst against hunger, but it also serves as a peacekeeper in conflict areas and helps refugee children overcome the difficulties they encounter. The strengthening of synergy between sports and the fight against hunger is therefore important for the well-being of children in general, as sports also help disseminate messages of ethics.
As regards child protection in sports, it was highlighted that sport is already used across different organisations programs as a tool for violence prevention, and for the protection of children from child labour and sexual exploitation. The panellists expressed the need for awareness raising of violence linked to many sporting practices, citing that children are often introduced to highly rigorous sports training under age-inappropriate conditions. Today’s challenges also include misconduct, bullying and hazing, trafficking of minors by sport recruiters, child exploitation during the World Cups, the Olympics, or other major sport events, all of which can interfere with basic children’s rights.
Although there is a lack of solid empirical data on violence against children in sports, child protection systems among sports federations and clubs merit investigation, and coaching qualifications amongst administration bodies should be checked and reviewed. All actors working on preventing various forms of child abuse need to work together before sport events take place. Particularly important is a collaboration of adolescents who are directly involved with issues occurring at these events, and whose inputs would be crucial in determining the best possible standards in terms of child protection within the world of sports coaching.
During the Conference, an important agreement was signed between UNICEF Brazil and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS). The agreement is aimed to collaborating for child protection at the time of the World Cup and the Olympic games in Brazil.
In conclusion, all individuals have the responsibility of taking action in their immediate surroundings and of being proactive in preventing injustice. Even before a breach of respect occurs, there is a responsibility to protect a child or adolescent under the supervision of elders, as children have a right to sport and the right to play safely.

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